Up a Tree Without a Ladder

By Mary Spivey
Tuesday December 23, 2008 - 10:12:00 AM

Christmas is, generationally, stressful. My parents’ mantra was “...in my day we were happy to get an orange and an apple in a stocking...” My comments “... seems like it should be practical and meaningful.” Watching television ads now seems like light years away from a Christmas culture I recognize. 

My particular memory goes back to a Pennsylvania Christmas in 1936. We lived in the country and this Christmas my mother took it upon herself to cross the frozen creek, enter the State Forest, and cut a tree. I was 7 at the time. My mother settled on the “top” of one of the trees. Now, in those days, women did not wear pants or slacks, so my mother was climbing the tree in a skirt. She was up in the tree ready to saw out the top when she spotted an approaching trapper “running his trap lines.” She hissed down to me to distract him so he would not look up in the tree. The trapper greeted me politely, passed a few words, and went on his way. He never looked up in the tree. My mother cut the top off, we dragged the tree through the snow, over frozen creek, giggling all the way. I remember my part of the fun, successfully fooling the trapper.  

Only recalling this tale later, I realize, of course, he knew my mother was in the tree. A 7-year-old girl is not out in the forest alone. Also they were both probably not supposed to be operating in State Forest lands. 

Just now I appreciate the parents’ sense of adventure and fun instead of fear and anxiety. For in 1936 we were in the depths of the Great Depression. 


P.S. I am bagging my yard lavender for Christmas this year.